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Dental amalgam is considered a safe, affordable and durable material that has been used to restore the teeth of more than 100 million Americans. It contains a mixture of metals such as silver, copper and tin, in addition to mercury, which binds these components into a hard, stable and safe substance. Dental amalgam has been studied and reviewed extensively, and has established a record of safety and effectiveness. Read the American Dental Association's full policy statement.

Amalgam Management Practices for Dental Offices

The Washington State Department of Ecology and the Washington State Dental Association collaborated in 2004 to help dental offices properly control dental office wastes. By implementing the jointly developed Best Management Practices (BMPs), including installation of amalgam separators, dentists prevent discharging mercury, silver, and other dangerous wastes into the environment.

In 2005 and 2006 Ecology and county environmental staff visited dental offices to verify that they were following the BMPs. 

  1. Best Management Practices for Dental Office Wastes Poster (PDF)
  2. Best Management Practices for Dental Office Wastes
  3. Frequently asked questions about dental waste management
  4. Operation and maintenance of x-ray silver recovery canisters
  5. Amalgam waste vendors and waste service providers
  6. Dental Amalgam Waste Management slide show (Microsoft PowerPoint)
  7. Information on choosing an amalgam separator:
  8. Washington State Department of Health Dental Amalgam information
  9. Memorandum of Understanding Dental Compliance Follow-Up (July 2006, PDF)
  10. Guidance for Sampling Dental Wastewater
  11. Fact Sheet - Mercury Use in Dental Amalgam
  12. Memorandum of Understanding - Washington State Department of Ecology and Washington State Dental Association (PDF) Note: This document is historical and is no longer effective after Dec 2005.

2005 Separator Installation Notification (PDF)

Related information

Mercury Partnerships - Hospitals


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